Ulthar are a three-piece out of Oakland, and they love Lovecraft (named after a short story called The Cats of Ulthar), and they play something that is very Black Metal but sprinkled with a heavy helping of Death to even it out. Providence is their second album and their first, Cosmovore, is pretty damned awesome. In fact, they had a lot to live up to here and guess what? They surpass those expectations.
Listen, there’s really no way to describe this without getting fancy, so let’s get fancy, shall we? The whole album is a volcanic eruption of pure cosmic horror, each song alternately grinding and swirling, the vocals shredding with terror and pure, cackling delight at the evil that is spilling forth from the speakers. “Churn” opens the album and it comes out blazing, blasting, shredding, no quarter given. “Undying Spear” slides in next, all sultry and seductive, those beautiful acoustic guitars hinting at something gorgeous hidden beneath the horror, before we realize we were tricked, and there is nothing but a hideous fate awaiting us all inside. This band offers no hope. And on it goes, each track doing something unique, all framed with that spinning, grinding Black Metal at its core. Some of the songs (“Cudgel,” “Furnace Hibernation”) slide into a sort of stomp for a second or two, finding a groove, before violently flying out of control again. Some play with haunting atmospherics (“Through Downward Dynasties”) before pushing your head underwater and holding you there while you thrash and fight for your life. Others (“Providence”) are kinda mid-paced just enough to hold you waiting, agonizing on the precipice, wondering just when the final shove off the cliff is coming. But here’s the thing: every song kind of does all of this, in their own way. There are dynamics galore on this record, although it may take a few spins before they become apparent.
So yeah, if you’re a fan of Black Metal, of Lovecraft, of horror in general, this is a real no-brainer. If you can’t handle chaos, if dark endings and hopeless struggles scare you, best you turn away. Providence is a land full of monstrous, indescribable horrors, and only those who are insane or foolhardy of full of Metal grit dare enter.
Four Buckets of Blood out of Four
Kelly is the author of dozens of stories and dozens of reviews. He likes to write, he likes to read, he likes going to the movies, and he loves to laugh. He hails from the wilds of Kentucky and if you'd like to see more of his work, check out his website: www.kellymhudson.com or on Amazon